United States posts record budget deficit

The United States posted the widest November budget deficit on record as spending outpaced revenue by double.

Outlays jumped 18 percent to $411 billion last month, while receipts were little changed at $206 billion, the Treasury Department said in a monthly report Thursday. That left a $205 billion shortfall, compared with a $139 billion gap a year earlier.

The United States ran the largest deficit in six years in fiscal 2018, the first full year of Trump’s presidency — when Republicans enacted a tax-cut package and raised federal spending for the military and other priorities. The measures have added to the growing federal deficit, which is forecast to push beyond $1 trillion by 2020.

In the first two months of the fiscal year that began Oct. 1, the gap widened to $305.4 billion, compared with $201.8 billion the same period a year earlier. Spending on Defense Department programs rose 18 percent in October and November from a year earlier, while outlays for total interest on the public debt jumped by 7 percent.

— Bloomberg


Retailers, importer sued over lead in toys

New York state is suing two of the nation’s largest retailers and a third company for importing and selling children’s toys with lead levels up to 10 times higher than federal limits.

State Attorney General Barbara Underwood said the lawsuit names Walmart, Target and LaRose Industries, which imports “Cra-Z-Jewelz” jewelry-making kits.

The lawsuit says the companies “committed thousands of violations” of state laws regulating the safety of children’s toys sold. It seeks civil penalties from the companies and a court order requiring them to ensure they never sell toys containing high lead levels in New York.

— Associated Press


Basis closes, citing regulatory concerns

Basis, a cryptocurrency project that in April announced it had raised $133 million from a slew of high-profile investors, said Thursday it was shutting down and returning the funds to backers over regulatory issues.

The project, being developed by U.S.-based Intangible Labs, had aimed to create a new type of cryptocurrency known as a “stablecoin” that could maintain a stable price and be more usable than existing digital coins whose value in dollars is highly volatile.

“Unfortunately, having to apply U.S. securities regulation to the system had a serious negative impact on our ability to launch Basis,” Nader Al-Naji, chief executive of Intangible Labs, said in a blog post.

Investors included Google’s venture arm GV, Silicon Valley venture capital firm Andreessen Horowitz, billionaire hedge fund manager Stanley Druckenmiller and Bain Capital.

— Reuters

Also in Business

Google said its cloud business won't sell a general type of facial recognition software until questions about the technology have been answered. "Facial recognition merits careful consideration to ensure its use is aligned with our principles and values, and avoids abuse and harmful outcomes," Kent Walker, Google's head of global affairs, said in a blog post Thursday. Google did not say what questions it wants answered before it will proceed, or whether the technology will remain off-limits to customers like the military or law enforcement.

Starbucks is expanding its delivery service to more than 2,000 U.S. locations next year. The company is building on its existing partnership with UberEats, which started in September in Miami, to focus on seven metropolitan areas, chief operating officer Rosalind Brewer said Thursday. With the increasing popularity of takeout and delivery, the UberEats tie-up may give a lift to Starbucks, whose domestic same-store sales rose just 2 percent in fiscal 2018.

An airport-services contractor accused of bribing its way to big contracts at New York City's Kennedy Airport has agreed to pay a $12.3 million fine for violating state law. Ground Services International also agreed Thursday to implement an anticorruption policy and start an anonymous tip line for employees to report suspected violations. New York Attorney General Barbara Underwood said the company's president secretly gave an ownership stake and payments worth $4.8 million to a British Airways executive who had influence over procurement.

— From news reports

Coming today

8:30 a.m.: Commerce Department releases retail sales data for November.

9:15 a.m.: Federal Reserve releases industrial production for November.

10 a.m.: Commerce Department releases business inventories for October.